Canada's rich natural resource wealth has sustained a long history of economic development. Extraction and processing of these natural resources have provided Canada with great social and economic benefits, and will provide a foundation for Canada's economy in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the benefits associated with natural resource extraction and processing are often accompanied by long-term, widespread environmental degradation and the associated social and financial costs. The remediation of groundwater, surface water and soils impacted by resource extraction is challenging and costly, but essential for environmental sustainability.
New strategies for stabilizing mine wastes and preventing future contamination are needed to reduce the environmental impacts associated with resource extraction. Implementation of these approaches will provide economic and societal benefits, and reduce the financial burden on corporations and provincial and federal governments responsible for remediation of mine sites. The long-term stability of mine-waste impoundments, and potential impacts to the surrounding environment, are controlled by hydrological, geochemical, mineralogical, and biological mechanisms. Although much progress has been made, significant technical challenges and knowledge gaps remain.
The NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks "NSERC Toward Environmentally Responsible Resource Extraction" (NSERC-TERRE-NET) will promote the broad collaboration and knowledge sharing necessary to address the technical and social challenges associated with responsible resource extraction. NSERC-TERRE-NET unites leading experts from universities across Canada working in the fields of geochemistry, hydrogeology, mineralogy, biogeochemistry, waste-water processing, geotechnical engineering, nanotechnology, environmental microbiology, resource economics, environmental sociology, and Indigenous interactions. In a thoroughly-integrated approach, our team will develop improved, cost-effective, socially acceptable strategies for managing mine wastes and mitigating contamination.